Team H&R Block kicks off Season at Tour of Walla Walla

Calgary-based Team H&R Block, just days after securing Trade Team status from the Canadian Cycling Association, traveled last weekend to the Tour of Walla Walla, in south-east Washington state, to kick off the 2008 road racing season. This stage race is a premier event on the northwest calendar, attracting a number of top teams from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

The racing started late afternoon Friday with the Kellogg Hollow Road Race, held on rolling open terrain near the town of Waitsburg, north of Walla Walla.
Weather played a major role in the race with a constant stiff wind from the south ultimately splitting the peloton of 120 riders into three-plus groups. H&R riders Chris DeVries and Cyrus Kangarloo made the crucial split of the race, finishing in the first chase group behind stage winner Rob Britton (Trek/Red Truck), while H&R’s Dallas Morris took the first sprint prime.

Saturday’s racing included a tough double-stage day: An 11 kilometre Individual Time Trial in the morning, followed by a 155 kilometre road race in the afternoon. Top H&R rider in the ITT was Chris McNeil, in 24th position. The Waitsburg Road Race again featured wind in addition to a 3 kilometre climb which the racers encountered three times. A few flakes of snow also greeted the peloton. It was a race of attacks off the front and attrition at the back, with Dallas finishing a fine 5th place, and Chris DeVries coming home in 16th. Rest, not to mention copious amounts of food, was warmly welcomed after three stages and nearly 300 km of racing in little more than 24 hours.

The final classification of the race was pretty much set after the second road race. Little changed during Sunday’s downtown Walla Walla Criterium; top H&R rider on the stage was Jeff Bolstad in 15th place. All H&R riders finished in the top-half of the field on general classification, with the exception of Aaron Schooler, who locked handlebars and went down in a crash during Sunday’s Criterium. Fortunately, Aaron suffered only some scrapes and won’t miss any riding. The team also accomplished a pre-race goal, finishing top-five in the team classification, while Dallas placed second on sprint bonuses. Top H&R riders on general classification were Dallas Morris (22nd) and Chris DeVries (23rd).

Final notes:
• Canadian domination was the norm at Tour of Walla Walla, with riders from Trek/Red Truck and Kona/Adobe winning both stages and the overall
• Congrats to former H&R rider Devon Smibert, back with the Synergy team, on his fine 6th place overall
• Next up for Team H&R Block – GP bici/bici ITT in and around Calgary this weekend

More information:
www.teamhrblock.ca
• Tour of Walla Walla: www.tofww.org

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